How many apps have Facebook copied?


Sina Technology Yunlin
On August 5, Facebook’s instagram launched a new feature, instagram reels.
Reels allows users to create and publish 15 second short videos, providing a massive music library. Video publishing algorithms also allow users to see the most popular videos, rather than personalized content customized for users’ preferences.
Do you know each other before? This is clearly a replica of tiktok.
Facebook also chose to launch reels at this time point, and Sima Zhao’s mind is well known.
Tiktok tweeted: Well, it looks familiar
“Copy” competitors
Since 2014, Facebook has “copied” successful features launched on rival platforms. Reels is just the latest attempt.
Facebook will pay close attention to competitors, and if they release some successful products, Facebook will follow suit, “prevent competitors from gaining a foothold in the market” and realize its rapid development, CEO Zuckerberg wrote in a series of emails in 2012.
The exposure of the mail also showed that at that time, Facebook senior staff had gone to China to learn from founder and Baidu founder Robin Li. In the report, the employee wrote: “maybe it’s faster because they’re just copying people.”
Zuckerberg is interested, and coo Sandberg agrees. Even one project manager revealed that they would love to see Facebook copy its competitors “boldly and quickly.”.
At the antitrust hearing of technology companies just concluded in July, Zuckerberg declined to disclose how many companies Facebook copied after the 2012 email exchange. But according to publicly collated data and media reports, Facebook has plagiarized at least six apps over the past six years, except tiktok.
April 2020: messenger rooms
Messenger rooms on Mobile
The epidemic has forced more and more people to work and study at home, and parties with friends can only be played online. At this time, video conference tools became the necessities of people’s life in the isolation period, such as zoom and houseparty.
In 2011, Yuan Zheng, a Chinese engineer, founded zoom in Silicon Valley. Since the release of the video conferencing application zoom, it has been growing steadily. However, since the outbreak of the epidemic in December last year, the utilization rate of zoom has soared by 1900%; the daily active users have increased from 1 million to 200 million in just two months. Even “zooming” has become a new synonym for video conferencing.
The phenomenon of “zooming” naturally attracts Facebook’s attention.
Facebook, which has watched zoom and other video conferences gain more new users every day, and doesn’t want to see competitors streaming their users, soon launched its own group video phone feature, Messenger rooms, in April this year.
Rooms allows users to initiate video conference calls with no more than 50 people via a link, and users without a Facebook or messenger account can join the conference via the link. The meeting sponsor can make the meeting private, prevent uninvited visitors from joining, or kick out the unwelcome participants.
During online meetings, users can use Facebook’s virtual reality filters and set up virtual backgrounds to look like they’re on the beach, on the farm, at Stanford University, and so on.
Zoom has all these functions. In particular, the virtual background was originally a feature of zoom.
Zuckerberg said about 700 million users make calls on messenger and WhatsApp every day. Therefore, the company hopes to further help people launch group chat video phone calls to make communication easier and more efficient.
But in fact, Facebook has tried to develop a separate group video app that will be copied to another video conferencing product, houseparty. But last year, the project ended. However, the recent success of zoom and other video conferencing applications has allowed Facebook to launch messenger rooms without hesitation.
April 2020: Facebook gaming
Facebook Gaming
Live gaming is another hot area. Especially during the epidemic period, as with video conferencing, the demand for game content and live video games increased significantly.
About two years ago, before Facebook gaming was launched, there were already two powerful platforms on the market: twitch and Youtube gaming. YouTube gaming is more game content oriented; in terms of live gaming, twitch has always been the preferred app for creators and consumers.
In 2014, after twitch was acquired by Amazon, its growth showed an exponential trend. In the second quarter of 2020, the total viewing time on twitter will reach 5 billion hours, accounting for 67.6% of the market share. In addition to live broadcasting, twitch has a huge user community, including players, E-sports players and game content creators, as well as the regular tournament “twitch rivals” that needs to be invited to participate.
Facebook gaming lags behind both twitch and Youtube gaming, except that its growth data is better than that of twitch.
So, in order to maximize the opportunities created by the epidemic, in April, Facebook launched a separate app for Facebook gaming. In addition to the live broadcast and community functions, the app also has a feature of “tournament mode”.

It’s similar to twitch, but somewhat different. To be exact, it’s a step forward than twitch rivals in invitation only mode. The “tournament mode” on Facebook gaming allows users to host various forms of tournaments.
Although we can’t strictly define the “tournament model” as plagiarism, there is a real reason to suspect that the model borrowed the ideas of twitch rivals and made improvements on this basis.
The purpose of this is obvious: to replace twitch and become No.1 in the field of live games!
October 2016: Marketplace
Facebook Marketplace
Craigslist is a 25 year old classified advertising website. In the United States, if people want to publish free local classified ads or sell some second-hand goods, the first thing they think of is basically Craigslist.
Although Craigslist’s interface is ugly and hasn’t changed much for decades, Craigslist is still “the number one classified advertising website in the world, both in terms of revenue and traffic,” said aim media’s Peter zulman in 2019. “It’s amazing that a single website can generate $1 billion a year.” (Note: Craigslist does not disclose revenue. Aim media estimates that Craigslist will generate about $1 billion in revenue in 2018, based on advertising displays.)
Such a behemoth cannot escape the fate of being targeted by Facebook.
As a matter of fact, marketplace has also brought huge competitive pressure to Craigslist.
Over the past two decades, Craigslist has been largely web based, with little improvement. As a result, although they all publish classified ads, the user experience of marketplace is better. In addition to the web page, users can also access the marketplace from the Facebook app, making it easier to post small ads, browse them more easily, and more importantly, it is more secure than Craigslist (although Facebook’s data security itself is a big problem).
With the development of marketplace, Craigslist, the former boss of classified advertising website, finally launched its own application at the end of 2019.
Application of Craigslist
Now, Craigslist seems to be copying the marketplace. It can only be blamed that Craigslist hasn’t caught up with the mobile trend and let Facebook take advantage of it.
August 2016: instagram stories
When it comes to Facebook plagiarism, instagram stories are the most powerful. Of course, instagram stories is also Facebook’s most successful plagiarism so far.
Snapchat took the lead in introducing the stories feature in 2013, which allows users to publish a group of pictures or short videos. These published content will be automatically deleted after 24 hours, which is the familiar “burn after reading”, which is of course the biggest signboard of snapchat.
Instagram, which was acquired by Facebook in 2016, moved all of these features to its own platform without even changing its name.
Everyone knows that Facebook’s instagram stories are plagiarized snapchat stories.
Even Kevin heathtrom, then instagram’s CEO, admitted: “it’s all due to snapchat.”
“For a long time, users posted snapchat links all over the instagram platform,” he added. Obviously, people want to splice these two different products. So we give users what they want. ” ——Take snapchat’s stories function directly.
Histrom also spoke bluntly about his view of “plagiarism”: “innovation is certainly worth encouraging. Instagram also innovates the use of filters. But it’s not who is innovating that matters. Facebook invented the feed function, which was later used by LinkedIn and twitter, but each had different feeds and different purposes. No one looks down on people who borrow from ideas that are generally considered great Every company is applying the best form or the latest technology. Snapchat’s face filter and slide photo display have existed for a long time? Is snapchat not great? Gmail wasn’t the first email client, and the iPhone wasn’t the first phone. Aren’t these companies great? I think these companies are great, and Facebook is great. Let’s innovate and improve together. That’s what makes Silicon Valley interesting. ”
What’s more, Facebook is also full of ingenuity when it comes to publishing plagiarism. As with tiktok and zoom, Facebook chose to be on the eve of snapchat’s parent, snap, ready to go public. Snap was launched in early 2017, instagram stories was released in 2016, and more interactive functions directly copied from snapchat were immediately updated. Later, snap’s share price fell by more than 12% on the third day after it went public, and fierce competition from Facebook was one of the main reasons why many institutions were bearish on snap.

Now, Facebook has already copied snapchat’s stories function to Facebook apps and messenger apps other than instagram, and each app has more active users per day than snapchat.
Snapchat is disappearing.
March 2015: on this day
“That year and today”
The “on this day” feature on Facebook, that is, “that year and today”, must be familiar to everyone. “That year and today” can display photos, posts, status, etc. released a few years ago today, bringing full memories to users.
However, this function is also copied from Facebook.
Since 2010, Facebook has been trying to ideally present what users have posted in the past. More than a year later, a start-up called timehop brought the concept of “that year, today.”.
However, Facebook waited until the success of timehop, that is, it saw that the app had gained 6 million active users on mobile terminals before it launched the nostalgic function of “that year and today”.
Although it has copied timehop, Facebook still has its limitations. Timehop can collect memories from users’ Facebook, twitter, instagram, Flickr, Dropbox and mobile photo albums, but Facebook’s memories are limited to the Facebook platform.
Maybe it is for this reason that the plagiarized timehop seems very calm. Jonathan Wigner, CEO of the company, was even elated when he heard that his app had been copied by Facebook. “I think in a sense it’s a great recognition of our work and the value of our efforts,” he said. One of our investors put it beautifully, saying, “if Facebook doesn’t invade your domain, it’s likely that your direction isn’t valuable.” Wigner also said that Facebook’s plagiarism proved that “timehop is important, and memories are important.”
June 2014: slingshot
If plagiarism by big companies is a kind of recognition, then snapchat is really lucky or unfortunate.
Before Facebook copied snapchat stories, Facebook had already targeted the young and creative snapchat. “Burn after reading” is snapchat’s biggest selling point and is very popular among young users.
As a result, Facebook has launched its own stand-alone app, slingshot, with a burn after reading element. Just like snapchat, when users open slingshot, the first thing that pops up automatically is the camera; after taking photos or small videos, users can immediately edit the content, add filters, doodles or add text descriptions, background music, etc. When satisfied, users can send their works to their friends directly.
Unlike direct plagiarism two years later, Facebook seems to be a bit of a prudence. The basic function of Slingshot is snapchat, but the difference is also obvious.
First of all, snapchat is one-to-one content sharing, and slingshot can directly share it with a group of friends at the same time; second, the biggest feature of Slingshot is not burning after reading, but “exchanging content with content”. That is to say, when you receive a photo or video from a friend, you can’t view it immediately. Only after you send back your photos or videos can you see the content. If the other party sends more than one content, you should exchange the same amount of content
Exchange content with content
“It promotes a sense of engagement,” says Joey Flynn, a product designer at slingshot
“Content for content” seems to be an innovation that can transcend the “burn after reading” feature and get rid of the suspicion of plagiarism. However, this innovation is a failure.
Because Slingshot is so similar to snapchat, but users find that it’s totally different from snapchat after a fierce operation: do not share or show other people’s content?
Such a wonderful design, to promote the sense of participation, I am afraid it is the designer’s wishful thinking.
So, three months later, slingshot removed the most significant feature that distinguishes snapchat. More than a year later, the slingshot project was completely over.
With this failure experience, Facebook plagiarizes again, no longer embellishment, but directly copy.
Is Facebook innovation drying up?
Looking back at Facebook’s product development history, we can see that since the messenger app, Facebook has never successfully developed its own popular app.
Instagram, a popular image sharing app, and WhatsApp, an instant messaging app, were acquired by Facebook. The popular stories feature on instagram was copied from snapchat.
Even, at the hearing at the end of July, some members pointed out that when Facebook acquired instagram, it threatened the founder of instagram to launch the same function and destroy instagram if it was not sold.
But even plagiarism is not successful every time.

“Over the years, most of Facebook’s attempts to copy other companies’ products have failed. The stories feature on instagram is a special exception. But maybe it’s not a guarantee of success, says lead analyst Dr. Williamson.
In order to maintain innovation and bring in more new applications, Facebook set up a new team, new product experience (NPE), a year ago to design, develop and publish applications to “present a new community building experience” to users. NPE teams can quickly launch new applications and even terminate testing when the applications fail to meet expectations.
However, at the beginning of last month, the hobbi app that NPE team announced to terminate is still suspected of plagiarism. Hobbi allows users to manage and save pictures related to personal interests, similar to pinterest.
Predictably, Facebook will launch more test applications in the future. But whether it is innovation or plagiarism remains to be seen.